The Center for Children's Books

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summertime - March 2008

Selected and annotated by Klara Kim

For children:

Franco, Betsy. Summer Beat; illus. by Charlotte Middleton. Simon & Schuster, 2007. 4-6 yrs
What noise does summer make? With a “bizzle-bzzz” and a “whoosh pumf!”, Betsy Franco’s imaginative and rhythmic text shows us the sounds of summer. Blowing bubbles, playing in the sprinkler, and spitting watermelon seeds are just some of the many ways to enjoy summer shown in this special book. Read this book aloud in order to fully take advantage of the text.

Layton, Neal. Hot Hot Hot. Candlewick, 2004. 4-7 yrs
Oscar and Arabella are woolly mammoths who love winter. When summer comes, it changes their lives for the worse as they contend with annoying insects, allergies, and the sweat of a hot day. Enjoy this prehistoric tale of woe as the two mammoths learn to cope with the heat.

Forman, Ruth. Young Cornrows Callin Out the Moon; illus. by Cbabi Bayoc. Children’s Book Press, 2007. 5-7 yrs.
These city kids have a good time in the summer because there’s so much to do! Buying treats from the ice cream truck and playing freeze tag in South Philadelphia’s African American community are just some of the great ways to spend a precious summer when you’re a kid.

English, Karen. Hot Day on Abbott Avenue, illus. by Javaka Steptoe. Clarion, 2004. 5-8 yrs
Kishi and Renee are in the middle of a fight that’s as bad as the sweltering heat of the day. They don’t care how bored it gets; they never want to speak to each other again. But sure enough they can’t resist the thrill of a good double dutch game and the lure of friendship.

Joosse, Barbara. M. Hot City; illus. by R. Gregory Christie. Clarion, 2004. 5-8 yrs
Sometimes a day is so hot you don’t even want to play outside. That’s when you head to the air conditioned library! Siblings Joe and Mimi escape the heat by entering the imaginary worlds within library books.

Florian, Douglas. Summersaults. Greenwillow Books, 2002. Gr. 2-4
Florian celebrates all the wonderful things about our warmest season of the year. These 48 poems cover everything, from the joys of roller-skating on the ground to the different kinds of clouds up in the sky. With his graceful and playful words, Florian proves that no two summers are ever alike.

Grimes, Nikki. DanitraBrownLeavesTown; illus. by Floyd Cooper. HarperCollins, 2002. Gr. 2-4
Danitra leaves for her relatives’ house while Zuri stays in the city. Zuri sulks at the prospect of spending summer vacation without her best friend, but letters allow them to share their good times with each other. Danitra experiences life in the countryside while Zuri talks excitedly about playing fun games with new friends.

Kraft, Erik. Lenny and Mel's Summer Vacation. Simon & Schuster, 2003. Gr. 2-5
Lenny and Mel are two brothers who want to make the most of their time off from school. For them, this means doing absolutely, wonderfully nothing. But even these two couch potatoes go places, whether it’s a trip to the library or camping with their Grandma. These kids don’t take themselves too seriously and are hilarious when they try to justify to their parents that doing nothing is what summer is all about.

Spinelli, Eileen. Summerhouse Time; illus. by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff. Knopf, 2007. Gr. 3-5
Even if it means spending time away from her crush, Sophie is looking forward to vacationing at her big family’s summer home on the beachfront. But why is her dad acting so mysteriously? And why is her cousin not speaking to her? Sophie’s family is going through some rough times and she wonders if the changes are permanent.

Birdsall, Jeanne. ThePenderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy. Knopf, 2005. Gr. 4-7
Join the Penderwicks sisters and their dog as they go on a summer holiday at a mansion in the mountains. The four sisters each have their own plot to follow: Rosalind’s crush on the gardener, Skye’s love-hate relationship with the mansion owner’s pianist son, Jane’s struggle with her writing, and Batty’s exploration of the mansion grounds. The Penderwicks are not quite the Bastable children or the March girls, but they exude a certain mischievousness that is evocative of those beloved characters.

Martin, Ann M. A Corner of the Universe. Scholastic, 2002. Gr. 4-7
This Newbery Honor book by famed author Ann M. Martin tells the story of a family drama. It is the 1960s and 12-year-old Hattie meets the mentally disabled uncle that her family has hid from her. Hattie wants to take care of Uncle Adam and make him a real part of the family, but when she can’t handle his unpredictable outbursts, what can she do to help?

For teens:

Chabon, Michael. Summerland. Miramax Books, 2002. Gr. 6-10
Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon writes a fantasy story for young adults. Ethan Field’s father is kidnapped and whisked away to the Winterlands and now Ethan must help fairies win against the evil Coyote. Will Ethan and his friends’ baseball skills help him as he crosses between parallel earths?

Myers, Walter Dean. Harlem Summer. Scholastic, 2007. Gr. 7-10
In 1920s Harlem, 16-year-old Mark Purvis wants to play music with the jazz greats. But when he gets a job loading trucks for piano player Fats Waller, he ends up embroiled in a bootlegging scandal that makes him sought after by gangsters for money he doesn’t have rather than his musical talents. What does it mean to be a “New Negro” of the Harlem Renaissance anyhow? Mark figures out a couple things about identity and about growing up in this humorous book about some serious subjects.

Lubar, David. Dunk. Clarion, 2002. Gr. 7-10
Summer for some teenagers means getting a summer job. Chad wants to work as a boardwalk clown on the Jersey shore, insulting people until they try to dunk him in the water tank. Being witty on cue isn’t as easy as he thought it would be, but working on being a clown lets Chad take out some of the anger he has about his life, which includes the girl he likes dating somebody else, a best friend who is deathly ill, and being abandoned by his father. Chad’s sarcastic way of speaking is sure to be engaging for a lot of teens who appreciate laughter that can heal.

Griffin, Adele. My Almost Epic Summer. Puffin, 2006. Gr. 7-10
Irene loves two things: hair and books. She even combines her two loves by creating hair styles influenced by the books she reads. Her creativity doesn’t help her when she loses her job at a hair salon, but she takes on a new job babysitting and meets the Starla, a pretty lifeguard. Starla is obsessed with getting back at her ex-boyfriend, but her ex-boyfriend seems to be hung up on being with Irene.

Mayall, Beth. MermaidPark. Razorbill, 2005. Gr. 7-10
Rather than being stuck with her dysfunctional family for the summer, Amy gets to visit her mom’s godmother at the seaside motel she runs. Amy ends up at an old tourist spot called MermaidPark and becomes determined to join the girls who dress up like mermaids and perform underwater shows for visitors. This fantasy life pulls Amy in, but reality tends to make her come up for air along the way.

Perkins, Mitali. Monsoon Summer. Random House Inc., 2004. Gr. 7-10
15-year-old Jazz wants to stay in California so she can hang out with Steve, the best friend she’s secretly in love with, but she follows her mother to Pune, India to work at the orphanage her mother used to live in. There she experiences many aspects of Indian culture head-on, including poverty and the caste system. She also meets Danita, a girl the same age as her who doesn’t know whether to follow her dream of opening her own business or to accept a marriage offer from a man who will help take care of her sisters. Both girls want to help themselves but want to be able to help others at the same time.

Sandell, Lisa Ann. Weight of the Sky. Viking, 2006. Gr. 7-10
Sarah is from a small town and is an outsider for two reasons: she is a self-admitted band geek and one of the few Jews around. She goes on a kibbutz in Israel for the summer, which means living and working on a small communal farm. Sarah feels like she fits in there, eventually growing fond of both Israel and two boys she meets. But the effects of war on the land and people are not lost on her, and Sandell’s careful free verse captures the enigmatic feelings brought on by her experiences.

Leitch, Will. Catch. Razorbill, 2005. Gr. 10-12
Tim has just graduated high school. In the summer before college, he gets a job carrying heavy boxes at the local bagel factory. Coming from a family of small town baseball heroes, Tim has no trouble getting dates. But then he meets 23-year-old Helena and suddenly staying in Mattoon and settling down with an older woman doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Leitch captures the feeling of growing up in a small Midwestern town and realistically portrays Tim’s relationships, particularly the troubled one between Tim and his brooding college drop-out and baseball has-been brother.

Sheldon, Dyan. Sophie Pitt-Turnbull Discovers America. Candlewick, 2005. Gr. 7-12
Sophie is a posh Londoner accustomed to going on holiday in France, but this summer her mother arranges for her to trade places with her friend’s daughter in New York. At first Sophie is excited, but unfortunately she becomes aware that living with this new family in Brooklyn isn’t at all like the glamorous New York lifestyle she had imagined. Plus, she has to endure the ignorance of people who think England is nothing but the Beatles and the royal family. Sophie comes to terms with the fact that everyone suffers from stereotypes and finds out that first impressions can be very misleading.

Johnson, Harriet McBryde. Accidents of Nature. Henry Holt & Company, 2006. Gr. 7-12
Despite having cerebral palsy, Jean has never really talked to other people with disabilities. Until she attends CampCourage, she always thought of herself as having the same life as any other teenager in the 1970s. But getting to know other disabled youth makes her realize that society doesn’t treat people like her normally at all. Jean figures out that she deserves a lot more respect and dignity from well-meaning but condescending people in her not-so-normal life.

Caletti, Deb. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart. Simon & Schuster, 2004. Gr. 7-12
Ruby is a shy and quiet “good girl” but quickly gets involved over the summer with Travis, a motorcycling rich kid who is a superb kisser. But when she finds out Travis’s gifts are stolen from people’s houses, her librarian mother gets her to join a book club full of senior citizens. When she hears more about the women’s lives, she is taught that there is more to life and love than going back to a guy just because he makes you feel good.